For Dr. Peter Lultschik, a slow day in the emergency room at Meadville Medical Center was a good Christmas present for himself and the staff on duty.

“Any time we don’t have a lot of people here on Christmas is a good thing,” said Lultschik, an emergency room physician at the hospital on duty for a 12-hour shift Sunday.

Lultschik has been an emergency room physician at MMC since 1992. He earned his medical degree in 1985 from the University of Toronto.

“There’s an ebb and flow,” Lultschik said of working the emergency room on Christmas. “Today’s been a quiet day.”

The emergency room had only seen 40 patients by late afternoon. A typical emergency day at the hospital is about twice that number, he said.

But, the day can shift into high gear in an instant.

“We could have a car accident and it takes all our resources for a time,” Lultschik said.

While Sunday was slow, it wasn’t without its medical needs.

“It’s people with critical illness,” he said. “They don’t come here if they have a mild illness. Heart attacks happen at Christmas, too.”

Weather can be a major influence on emergency room activity.

If it’s a snowy day, it often leads to more traffic crash-related injuries.

Not all the emergencies this time of year are physical in nature.

The Christmas holiday can take a psychological toll on some — which can be as debilitating as a physical injury.

“It’s a difficult time for people who suffer from depression,” Lultschik said. “There are those who don’t have family or who are alone at Christmas.”

“There are also the stressors of trying to get everything done during the holidays,” he said.

Though patient count was down Sunday compared to a non-holiday day in the emergency room, there’s still work.

“You always have something to do,” Lultschik said. “It’s signing (patient) charts, getting caught up on (patient) charts.”

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

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